tv NBC Nightly News NBC May 7, 2012 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT
on our broadcast tonight, bomb plot. the news that al qaeda may have been planning a new attack on a u.s.-bound airliner with a new kind of device. mixed signals. what the vice president said that pushed the white house into damage control mode. and raised an issue they weren't planning to talk about today. weight of the nation. a stunning prediction about a growing american health crisis. and star attraction. new glory for a hollywood icon of old made famous by bogart and hepburn. "nightly news" begins now. good evening. there has been a lot of talk of late tied to the first
anniversary of the death of same same that al qaeda as an organization has been greatly weakened and is much less effective without its senior leadership. but we begin here with fresh evidence of continued efforts to attack the united states. officials are telling us the cia thwarted a plot by an al qaeda branch in yemen to detonate a bomb on a u.s.-bound jet liner using a powerful explosive and a more sophisticated new device intended to clear airport metal detectors. we're still learning more about this. it's where we begin with our justice correspondent, pete williams. pete, good evening. >> american officials are saying tonight this is a big success story for international intelligence. detecting the plot well in advance, monitoring it closely, and then shutting it down and actually recovering the device that al qaeda intended a suicide bomber to use. the target was to be a passenger airliner bound for the u.s. though officials say no specific
flight had been chosen and no ticket had been purchased. the plot, they say, was to originate in yemen. and the potential suicide bomber had actually been identified. the plan was to use an upgraded version of the underwear bomb worn by mutallab who tried to set it off on a christmas day flight to detroit in 2009. that failed to work properly and simply caught fire. he's now serving a sentence of life in prison. the latest attempt, officials say, included a different detonation system, but as with the earlier device, no metal parts. officials say the u.s. is now evaluating whether this latest device could have been detected by airport full body scanners that are deployed here and at many airports for u.s.-bound flights. intelligence officials say the device was almost certainly made by the top bomb maker for al qaeda in yemen, the same man suspected of designing the 2009 underwear bomb and the devices hidden in laser printer cartridges intercepted in overseas air cargo shipments
destined for chicago two years ago. >> what this makes clear is this country has to continue to remain vigilant against those who would seek to attack this country. and we'll do everything necessary to keep america safe. >> this demonstrate's al qaeda in the arabian peninsula's continued priority on aviation security as a target. it's the number one affiliate in the al qaeda network and this is another example of why they're still a threat. >> the u.s. is more concerned about al qaeda in yemen more than any other terror group. just yesterday, u.s. officials say a top al qaeda operative was killed in an air strike. he was wanted for the 2000 bombing of the "uss cole" that killed 17 american sailors. an administration official told us the fbi has been analyzing the device for the past week, studying its composition and potengsdle structive force. >> pete williams in our
washington newsroom, pete, thanks. also joining us from our washington bureau, michael leiter who served as head of the the national counter tearicism sector under both presidents bush and obama and was in fact in the white house situation room a year ago during the raid that killed bin laden. he's these days a national security analyst for us at nbc news. you have to admit the talk has been about how much al qaeda has been degraded. beyond the fact this was successful, it was intercepted, what do you take from this regarding their strength? what should we take from this? >> brian, this really shows that al qaeda in yemen, in the arabian peninsula as it's known in government circles, remains a very potent threat. as pete noted, 2009, mutallab, 2010, the cartridge bombs. the growing instability in yemen, especially in the south of the country, has left yemen open as a safe avon for
terrorism, and this is a group, despite how they have been wounded, is very, very much committed to killing americans. >> what do you take away from this, at least the attempt at technology and again another attempt to evade the traditional forms of detection? >> this is a constant cat and mouse game between government intelligence organizations and terrorists. al qaeda knows that we have obviously changed our means of detecting bombs through the advanced screening we have in u.s. airports, but they're looking for weaknesses at every turn. it's those weaknesses they're seeking to exploit now, and i hate to say, but i don't think this will be the last. they will learn from this disruption and attempt to change their means so the next time it can get through. we're going to have to continue to be on top of them both offensively and defensively. >> a quick question for those of us who fly. we saw the liquid ban after one attempt. we saw other security measures after the so-called underwear bomb attempt. do you think we'll see evidence
at an airport near us in the future that comes out of this intercept today? >> i think it will accelerate the advanced screening technology that has been coming out over the past two years and it may well lead to even more stringent screening overseas because at least at this point, most of these threats and attacks are coming from oversees. on the international landscape, we'll probably see tighter cooperation and more stringent security measures. >> michael leiter who was head of the national counter terrorism center. thank you for being with us from washington tonight. also today on videotape, an emotional appeal to president obama for help from an american aid worker, warren weinstein, captured last august by al qaeda in pakistan. u.s. officials are analyzing the video to see when it may have been recorded. now we turn to domestic politics.
president obama does not support gay marriage. while his stand has been and remains an issue, it's a bigger issue now that vice president biden chose yesterday morning's broadcast of "meet the press" to voice his support of the issue. then on msnbc this morning, the president's education secretary did the same thing, and suddenly the white house spent the day knocking down an issue they were not planning to knock down today. our chief white house correspondent chuck todd is with us with more on this. good evening. >> good evening, brian. as you pointed out, today was supposed to be a continuation of the president's campaign kickoff for a second term. they even debuted a tv ad that is reminiscent of ronald reagan's famouous "it's morningn america." but it's this comment that caught the white house and the president's campaign a bit flat footed. >> i am vice president of the united states of america -- >> it started with joe biden on "meet the press." >> i am absolutely comfortable
with the fact that men marry men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties, and quite frankly, i don't see much of a distinction. >> he was more definitive than the president had been 18 months ago when mr. obama had last addressed the issue substantively. >> my feelings about this are constantly evolving. i struggle with this. i have friends, i have people who work for me, who are in powerful, strong, long-lasting gay or lesbian unions. i personally am going to continue to wrestle with it going forward. >> the apparent split sent aides of both men scrambling to clarify. biden's office put out a statement minutes after "meet the press" aired, saying what the president had said prese i'vely. that same sex couples should not be denied rights, adding beyond that, the vice president was expressing that he, too, is evolving on the issue after
meeting so many committed couples and families in this country. in the this morning on "morning joe" on msnbc, arne duncan was asked if he supports gay marriage? >> yes, i do. >> have you ever said that publicly before? >> i don't know if i have ever been asked publicly. >> hours later, white house press secretary jay carney faced repeated questions about the president's position. all carney would say is that the president is against a proposal on the north carolina ballot tomorrow which would make gay marriage and civil unions unconstitutional in that state. >> help me out, he opposed bans on gay marriage, but he doesn't support gay marriage? >> the record is clear that the president has long opposed divisive and diskrm nnatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples. that is a position he's taken that precedes his taking a position in north carolina. it's a position he's taken in other states where this has been an issue. >> you know, we should point out, brian, that the country is, if you will, evolving on this
issue to borrow a phrase from the president. in 2009 when we polled on this issue on same-sex marriage, nearly 50% said they were opposed to it, only 41% supported it. just a couple months ago in march, we asked again. 49% said they supported gay marriage. just 40% opposed. you see that shift in public opinion, brian. >> chuck todd from the white house north lawn tonight. chuck, thanks. overseas tonight in france and in greece, voters have delivered a clear message being heard around the world. financial crisis not withstanding, they have had enough belt tightening. in france, sarkozy is out, a socialist is in, and from paris tonight, nbc's jim maceda has our report on both fronts. >> francois hollande swept into office on a wave of anger. voters fed up with too much austerity. france's first socialist president elect in almost 25 years spent his first day at work, but already the honeymoon was over.
>> in order to make promises and signals to the left of his party, that is going to scare people. >> and today, from america to asia, markets were jittering, worried about hollande's promise to tax and spend his way to growth and jobs. german chancellor angela merkel who rules over europe's largest economy said she would welcome hollande to berlin with open arms but made it clear she wouldn't budge for an austerity plan for europe signed by 25 countries. we don't change everything we've already decided because of some election, whether in big or small countries, she said. people were in a rebellious mood in greece, as well. angry greek voters hammered mainstream parties who supported massive budget cuts as the price for a bailout. now there's talk again of greece pulling out of the eurozone. more uncertainty. >> and whether this drama will lead into a strategy remains to be seen in the next week.
>> back in paris, hollande prepared for his first foray into summitry with an invitation from president obama to meet in washington before the g-8 and nato summits later this month, and the man he beat accepted the blame for his defeat. nicklaus sarzoez sarkozy with his select wife carla bruni, was a player on the world stage for five years. but french voters finally had enough of his brash style, his rich friends, and his economic policies. it was time for someone new. but even some of those who voted for him worry that the socialist hollande will overspend france deeper into debt with ripple effects throughout europe and across continents. brian. >> jim maceda in paris for us. jim, thanks. in russia, vladimir putin returned to his former job for a third go-round. in an ornate room at the kremlin, he was sworn in as president, saying it's what gives his life meaning. meanwhile, outside the kremlin walls what some also call a
return to the putin era as police continue their crackdown on anti-putin demonstrators. still ahead as we continue along the way on this monday night, a young woman who wants others to steer clear of what she is facing. it's an urgent american health problem. there's a warning tonight about how much worse it is about to get. and later, terrifying moments on a railroad crossing caught on video.
up from what it is now, 34%. and the cost of all of this is multiplying quickly. our report tonight from nbc's anne thompson. >> america is a nation that loves to eat. despite what we all acknowledge as a growing problem, we're still tempted to indulge. >> late night is made for fourth meal. >> our voracious appetite is such that now one third of americans are obese, and today a new study projects that number will jump to 42% of adults by 2030. and those 100 pounds overweight classified as severely obese will increase by 11%. a bigger nation means bigger medical problems and health care bills. but if we can hold the line or more accurately our waist line, and not get any more obese, we could save $550 billion by 2030. we get plenty of encouragement. from nfl football heroes -- >> pledge to play 60. >> exercise and moving can be fun.
>> to the first lady. for kids, weight carries more than just stigma. >> older overweight children are more likely to have high blood pressure, to have higher cholesterol, and to be able to move less well and play less well. >> take a deep breath for me. >> this woman lives with one of the consequences of childhood obesity, type two diabetes she's lost weight, is on medication, and wants kids to learn from her. >> it's not about being skinny or looking great. it's about being fit. just eat healthier. >> is weight gain just an energy equation? taking in more calories than you use? or is it what we eat? refined sugars and grains that drive up insulin levels and can actually increase your appetite? one expert says it's not that simple. we have a country that is perpetuating obesity because obese mothers are having children who are more likely to be obese as adults.
and we have a toxic environment. >> and dr. pratt said that toxic environment consists of portions that are too big and americans who constantly eat. what is a sedentary nation to do? we'll get more recommendations from the institute of medicine. touted as comprehensive and evidence based. solutions that are likely to be as contentious at the many theories about the cause of our obesity problem. brian. >> this is going to get interesting. previous attempts haven't worked. anne thompson, thanks, as always. we'll take a break. up next, an icon, a marathon, and a true team effort.
barreling down the tracks. the woman shooting the video was screaming at the top of her lungs. she did not realize both occupants of the truck got out in time. no injuries. the freight train was moving like a freight train and could not stop. the truck was cut cleanly in half. it was carrying bales of cotton which were then strewn all over the place. they had a wild time in boston last night. the red sox game against the visiting orioles went so long and so late at 17 innings, it was one of those rare events when both teams emptied their bull pen, flat out ran out of pitchers, and so regular roster players, position players came in for a fantasy inning of pitching. this is the first time it's happened since 1925. last night, the orioles first baseman was their winning pitcher. your game time, 6:07, and the fans got their money's worth. we now know what a lot of you did this weekend. you went to see "the avengers."
we know this because it set a big new record for opening weekend box office. brought in $207 million. smashing the old record held by "harry potter and the deathly hallows." because it already opened overseas, this movie has already made over $500 million without breaking a sweat. and over half of the folks who saw it this weekend in the u.s. paid extra to see it in 3-d. this was a big weekend for moon watchers. it's like everyone realized all over again the incredible joy the nighttime sky can bring. the largest and brightest full moon we'll see in years, the so-called super moon or perigee moon. it was the closest pass to earth of any moon in 2012, and on our website, we posted some of the most beautiful views of it around the world. the next big event in the night sky, may 20th, a partial eclipse of the sun for all of north america and a select few along
it was as much the star of the movie "the african queen" as hepburn and bogart themselves, the boat itself. we have news tonight about the old vessel from florida. here's nbc's mark potter. >> in 1951, the john huston film "the african queen" dazzled american audiences and carried them a world away on an exciting journey through africa. starring humphrey bogart and katharine hepburn, it became a film classic. >> you're crazy. >> and featured a trusty old work boat with a tempera mental boiler and a clattering steam engine. today, 61 years later, that famous boat, "the african queen" has found new life with a more reliable boiler. in key largo, florida, has been put into service by lance and suzanne holmqvist. he, an expert in boat restoration. she, a student and fan of old movies.
>> i feel we have been given something special to take care of and we really need to do a good job. >> the boat was built 100 years ago in england but didn't stay there. >> worked in africa for 60 years hauling mercenaries and missionaries and big game hunters and sometimes i imagine they would be on the same voyage. >> after the movie, it traveled to america as a tourist boat and was left to rust in a florida pasture. in 1982, it was bought by jim hendrix who sailed her at events in england, australia, ireland, and new york. his son jimmy is now the current owner, leasing it to the holmqvists. >> she's a piece of history, a piece of history that needs to move forward. >> once again, "the african queen" carries tourists. many of them film buffs. >> the queen lives! >> i feel like i'm a part of the movie almost. >> many of the people who ride this boat say they can feel some of the ghosts here, for example, katharine hepburn sitting right here with a tiller in hand,
telling humphrey bogart up there exactly what to do. >> oh, miss. have pity. >> a tough old boat with many lives, again in a starring role. mark potter, nbc news, key largo, florida. >> that's our monday broadcast. i'm brian williams. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night. and good evening, everyone. i'm jessica aguirre. >> and i'm raj mathai. for the first time in weeks, there's a new clue in the search for sierra lamar. the case is in morgan hill, but the new clue might be connected to an attempted abduction in san jose. k kimberly tere has our new details. she joins us live from morgan hill with the latest. k kimberly? >> reporter: raj, police say they've been conducting multiple witness intervaus and combing through hours of surveillance video.